Last season, prior to Nick Senzel's knee injury, Tyler Naquin was viewed as a platoon player. Once Senzel hit the 60-day IL, Naquin became the Cincinnati Reds starting centerfielder and had his best season in the big leagues.
For some odd reason, Naquin has been viewed as a platoon player this season. Tonight's game is a prime example, as the former Cleveland outfielder will begin the game in the dugout with Aristides Aquino drawing the start in right field instead.
Rather than expound as to why Aquino has no business on a major league roster, I'd prefer to question why Naquin isn't in the starting lineup. David Bell, you've got some explaining to do.
Tyler Naquin is an everyday player on this year's Reds team.
Among all the active players on the Cincinnati Reds roster, no one has a higher OPS than Tyler Naquin. In effect, David Bell is benching his best hitter in favor of his worst hitter. Aristides Aquino has a lower OPS than every player on the Reds active roster except for rookie catcher Mark Kolozsvary.
Now I know that Naquin is a left-handed hitter and Bell likes to play the percentages. For his career, Naquin has just a .217 batting average against southpaws. Aquino has a lifetime batting average of .206 against every pitcher he's ever faced, regardless of which hand the pitcher throws the ball with. In terms of splits, Aquino hits just .195 versus left-handers and has an on-base percentage below .300.
While Bell hasn't been given any semblance of a true major league roster, it's managerial malpractice to let Naquin ride the pine while starting Aquino in his place.
Furthermore, how can Naquin ever hope to improve versus left-handed pitchers if he's not given the opportunity. The same argument was raised by Jesse Winker in 2020. Then, when he finally got the chance, Winker clobbered lefties to the tune of .265/.390/.500 during the pandemic-shortened season.
The Reds are not world-beaters, and Winker nor Nick Castellanos are walking into the clubhouse. I don't care what type of splits Naquin has in his career versus left-handed pitching, the 30-year-old has a higher batting average and more RBIs than anyone playing for Cincinnati at this moment.
I fully expect Aristides Aquino to be off the roster by next week when rosters are reduced from 28 players to 26. So hopefully this is the last time we really even debate this. But it needed to be said. Sometimes, playing the percentages is not the right way to manage a baseball team.